Sales and Marketing Software

Why Emotion Matters

By Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst

Time to Harness Emotional Triggers in Digital Content and Conversations

Be honest with yourself. When you’re involved in a buying decision within your organization oftentimes emotional issues come into play. It’s only natural. Even though many us would be steadfast in their conviction that they rely on practical and rational considerations the opposite is often true. Your first question is, how will this impact me? How will it impact my team not just from process perspective but from one of influence and ownership? Marketers can no longer ignore that reality and instead need to understand the emotional triggers of buyers to infuse them into their digital content and conversations.

From previous research I’ve conducted, emotional aspects of a purchase can drive greater than fifty percent of the approach, position and ultimate support given to a particular investment alternative. Clearly emotion matters and you should begin to frame efforts that work to incorporate emotional triggers into your content and conversations. Here is a simple framework to apply, based upon our research and methods.

There are three types of emotional triggers and all three of them are both useful and important:

• Trigger Words: Individual words that evoke a positive or negative feeling specific to a potential investment. These should reveal reasons both for the corporation such as “lower costs,” as well as personal reasons for the team member such as “enhanced perceptions of leadership.”

• Trigger Phrases: The use of a combination of words that are adjacent to each other most often within a sentence related to a potential investment.

• Trigger Images: Images that reinforce the power and meaning of trigger words.

The emotions of a buyer cover a whole range of feelings and tendencies, but it is not necessary to cover them all. For example, the emotional feeling of empathy is both complex, hard to grasp, and even harder to build. So from an emotional perspective, you need to keep it simple. Our guidance at IDG Connect is that you focus on the positive and negative emotional triggers in three key emotional areas as they are the ones that best relate to B2B purchase dynamics.

1. Risk: What is the potential outcome or impact of a particular decision?
2. Control: During and after a decision is made what impact is there on who has greater control over processes, people and outcomes?
3. Reward: Are there tangible benefits to the buying team member that are related to stature, money or advancement that they can clearly sense are possible to achieve?

Next up is a simple framework about how to categorize buying team members. For emotional factors, you don’t segment by the traditional demographics such as decision role or focus. Rather you want to think about how they act as part of the buying team, how they interact with others, and the ways they express, participate and engage with each other. This is directly related to an earlier post about the importance of Cultural Dynamics. Within the buying team we have identified three different personas. Your goal, through the use of emotive elements, is to either reinforce one’s positive tendencies towards a particular solution or in the best circumstances move the individual, through trigger use, from a negative view to one that is neutral or from a neutral view to a positive one. The three personas are:

Champion: Individual is vested in the outcome and clearly sees and supports positive impact. As a proponent they are willing to be both supportive and work to shepherd the decision and propel it forward relative to other investment alternatives. The job of your emotional triggers with this individual is to move them from champion to sensing they can be a hero. It is the difference between someone being an activist in favor of an offering and/or vendor to being an evangelist where, my past research shows, they become five times more active in actions positive to the purchase.

Collaborator: Individual is interested in making the best decision for the organization and wishes to see and understand the relative positive and negative implications. They like to have a dialogue and sometime seek to moderate how the group weighs pros and cons of a particular option. They can be moved to be Champions but also just as easily gravitate towards a position that presents an additional challenge to getting the customer to say yes.

Challenger: These individuals are especially sensitive to potential changes reflected by the pending decision. They often want to understand excessive detail that not only slows down the process, but also helps them identify challenge points. They are not so much pessimistic but overly conservative in this regard. Their stance is often posed as being protective of the organization but their concerns can be based on very personal feelings. By arming others with emotive triggers and stressing the positive aspects of the investment in resource, time, savings, competitiveness, and increased business viability, your intention is to use emotional triggers to neutralize the uncertainty they wish to convey.

As you consider this, keep in mind that the opposite pole of emotional behavior in our model is logical. As you work to use triggers to increase the sense of control, reduce the sense of risk, and clarify potential reward, the decision becomes more measured and logical. If your offering is viable it will increase the propensity of a choice that goes in your favor.


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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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